50 - Live In Rio


In And Out Of Focus Records, 2021


REVIEW BY: Mark Kadzielawa


Focus is a great classic rock band from Holland. They are generally considered a prog band, but above all they are a very unique group. Back in the ’70s, Focus was incredibly successful, and even managed to introduce yodeling into rock. Also, they incorporate the use of the flute, much like Jethro Tull, but that’s the only similarity between the two. Focus is a very original band. Over the last 50 years, there have been many incarnations of Focus, and years of inactivity, but at the end of the day the music always prevailed. 

This is truly wonderful set celebrates 50 years of Focus. The main treat is the Live In Rio concert. There is a two disc audio recording of the concert, and a DVD combining both visual and audio. Each set is very nicely recorded and filmed; it’s as if you were there, you automatically become a part of the experience. It will leave you absolutely satisfied. Unfortunately, other than occasional festival appearances, Focus does not tour United States regularly. It’s a shame, so releases like this offer a chance to see what the band is like on stage nowadays. This writer, however, is not giving up upon seeing the band live at one point.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The concert highlights all that we know and love about Focus. Not many surprises, just pure undiluted Focus. The band is still actively recording new albums, and there is definitely a link between what the band did back in the ’70s, and what they do now. Their style is still evident in the new tracks; the magic is there.

This is a new release, though the actual concert took place in 2017, but better late than never. Classics like “Hocus Pocus,”  “Sylvia,” and “Focus 3” shine like they always do.  “All Hens on Deck” is the only newer song I recognize. Focus created a lot of great music since re-launching back in 2002. But when you have such strong back catalog of songs, I suppose you stay with it.

At this point Focus includes two core members, multi-instrumentalist-vocalist Thijs Van Leer and drummer Pierre Van Den Linden, joined by Menno Gootjes on guitar, and Udo Pannekeet on bass. This is a very solid line up, and they clearly deliver the goods on stage and in the studio.

In addition to the live recording, the package includes another disc of reinterpretations of Focus classics from the 1970s. The band is clearly having fun here re-recording songs, and sometimes changing the arrangements.  It’s a nice bonus treat from the band. 

The set is beautifully packaged with a nice booklet with photos and notes, but it’s the music that takes the center stage here. Live In Rio guarantees a great evening of Focus. Despite the core members’ advanced age, Focus continues, so there is more to come, and I’m looking forward to it.

Rating: A

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© 2021 Mark Kadzielawa and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of In And Out Of Focus Records, and is used for informational purposes only.